Michael Zelenko: Earth’s newest cloud is terrifying (The Verge)
Pretor-Pinney described the formations as “localized waves in the cloud base, either smooth or dappled with smaller features, sometimes descending into sharp points, as if viewing a roughened sea surface from below. Varying levels of illumination and thickness of cloud can lead to dramatic visual effects.” Asperitas clouds tend to be low-lying, and are caused by weather fronts that create undulating waves in the atmosphere.
APOD: 2018 August 19 - Asperitas Clouds Over New Zealand
What kind of clouds are these? Although their cause is presently unknown, such unusual atmospheric structures, as menacing as they might seem, do not appear to be harbingers of meteorological doom. Formally recognized as a distinct cloud type only last year, Asperitas clouds can be stunning in appearance, unusual in occurrence, and are relatively unstudied. Whereas most low cloud decks are flat bottomed, asperitas clouds appear to have significant vertical structure underneath. Speculation therefore holds that asperitas clouds might be related to lenticular clouds that form near mountains, or mammatus clouds associated with thunderstorms, or perhaps a foehn wind -- a type of dry downward wind that flows off mountains. Such a wind called the Canterbury arch streams toward the east coast of New Zealand's South Island. The featured image, taken above Hanmer Springs in Canterbury, New Zealand, in 2005, shows great detail partly because sunlight illuminates the undulating clouds from the side.
Boise Eliot Native Grove is transforming an unimproved right-of-way (full of invasive grasses, often used as a dumping ground) into a grove of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses, with native bee housing, paths, art, benches, and educational signage. The Grove is being created to support populations of native pollinators, insects, and birds, in partnership with local schools, businesses and community environmental organizations.
I’m no fan of the idea that the new coronavirus helps the ecological cause; it brings death, and will bear down on the most vulnerable the hardest. But in the kitsch viral stories about drunk elephants and smug swans, there is undeniably a seed of longing for a post-virus world more full of life. There is something to nurture in the idea that this big global hurt came from a big global overexploitation of nature, and so maybe a big global healing could come in its wake.
Jenny Odell: What Earthrise Can Tell Us About Earth Day (Sierra Club)
Earth Day should be a time for thinking about time.
Just as a satellite view shocks us with the strange beauty of our seemingly familiar home, Earth Day has the potential to give us a new temporal perspective. There is no natural basis for a week or a decade, and the endless extractive growth that corporations project has no analogue in nature. Earth's clock is richer than the Western manmade clock, an overlapping set of rhythms in which many scales coexist: not only days and seasons but also tides, flowering events, ecological successions, and geologic accumulations.
I would like Earth Day to be like that: a pause for consideration, a day unlike other days, a time for thinking about time. Some things are visible only from a remove. Let this day be a porthole through which we look out on the vastness of ecological time, laughing in retrospect at our small-minded schedules and wondering how we might think and act in different ones. If we agreed to do that, I wouldn't be surprised if the effects of Earth Day cascaded into all our other days.
Chris Helzer: Finally, A Practical Guide for Roadside Wildflower Viewing
If you’re a fan of wildflowers, I’m sure you’ve noticed the same thing I have – all the field guides out there have one massive flaw. They’re designed for people who are slowly ambling about in prairies and other natural areas with nothing better to do than stop and stare closely at the minute details of flowers.
But what about the silent majority who prefer to experience wildflowers the way General Motors intended – by whizzing past them in a fast, comfortable automobile? How are nature-loving-from-a-distance drivers supposed to learn the names and habits of the wildflowers as they speed blissfully past them at 65 (85?) miles per hour?
Because a fig is actually a ball of flowers, it requires pollination to reproduce, but, because the flowers are sealed, not just any bug can crawl inside. That task belongs to a minuscule insect known as the fig wasp, whose life cycle is intertwined with the fig’s. Mother wasps lay their eggs in an unripe fig. After their offspring hatch and mature, the males mate and then chew a tunnel to the surface, dying when their task is complete. The females follow and take flight, riding the winds until they smell another fig tree.
There are more than seven hundred species of fig, and each one has its own species of wasp. When you eat a dried fig, you’re probably chewing wasp mummies, too.
Our pre-human ancestors probably filled up on figs, too. The plants are what is known as a keystone species: yank them from the jungle and the whole ecosystem would collapse. Figs’ popularity means they can play a central role in bringing deforested land back to life. The plants grow quickly in inhospitable places and, thanks to the endurance of the fig wasps, can survive at low densities.
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Chad Nelsen, and Bren Smith: The big blue gap in the Green New Deal (Grist)
4 ways the ocean can play a key role in healing the climate and rebuilding the economy
While rising seas represent material threats to coastal communities, the ocean can, and should, be a big part of the solution — it can catapult us toward the Green New Deal’s vision of simultaneously improving our environment and economy, while reducing inequality.
being able to see the in-between is a matter of collective survival. Western corporate-influenced individualism is at odds with the reality that everything is ecological, that nothing and no one can be reduced to its perceived essence, and that truly, no man is an island (not even a billionaire libertarian on an actual island). If we do not understand this now, the climate will soon show us; in fact, it already is.
Jenny Odell: Excavating Calabazas Creek: An Inefficient Route Through Silicon Valley
Even in the midst of a slurb made of corporate franchises and walled tech gardens, it’s not possible to be nowhere, any more than it is for us to engineer away the water during a flood or stop cracks from appearing in pavement. Water moves and land moves. Nothing on earth ever stands still.
Ten days after calling off her engagement, CJ Hauser travels to the Gulf Coast to live among scientists and whooping cranes.
I think I was afraid that if I called off my wedding I was going to ruin myself. That doing it would disfigure the story of my life in some irredeemable way. I had experienced worse things than this, but none threatened my American understanding of a life as much as a called-off wedding did. What I understood on the other side of my decision, on the gulf, was that there was no such thing as ruining yourself. There are ways to be wounded and ways to survive those wounds, but no one can survive denying their own needs.
Each national park has a unique soundscape. The natural and cultural sounds in parks awaken a sense of wonder that connects us to the qualities that define these special places. They are part of a web of resources that the National Park Service protects under the Organic Act. From the haunting calls of bugling elk in mountains to the patriotic calls of bugling horns across a historic battlefield, NPS invites you to experience our parks through this world of sound.
Note: Most of these answers pertain to the American Crow, _Corvus brachyrhynchos_. Much of the information here is from my own research on crows in central New York; where I used other sources I have tried to reference the material.
—Dr. Kevin J. McGowan, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Supporting urban and sub-urban gardeners in Portland, Gresham, Fairview & Lake Oswego as they enhance wildlife habitat in their own backyards. Plant roots, create a habitat, transform the world, one yard at a time.
Love hertz: Scientists find fatal attraction 'sex' frequency to lure male mosquitoes to their death
Scientists have hit upon the fatal attraction frequency that mimics the sound of a deadly disease-carrying female mosquito's wings beating, in order to lure the male of the species to their death.
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine researchers Brian Johnson and Scott Ritchie discovered a tone of 484 hertz, the frequency of a female Aedes aegypti's wings flapping, attracted male mosquitoes of the species in large numbers.
Brian Anderson: The South Pacific Drone Zone (Motherboard)
‘Tectonically, this remote region is a patchwork. The Antarctic, Nazca and Pacific plates all converge here. Even better, four of modern history’s unaccountable terra-acoustical blasts have all eked from its depths.’